For Patients

Are you taking too many medicines?

It is common for older adults with multiple health conditions to take many medicines. You might be seeing different medical specialists who are all prescribing medicine for you.

If you are taking 5 or more medicines, it is called polypharmacy. Sometimes, this may be the best option for you. However, sometimes taking too many at the same time can do more harm than good.  

Why can polypharmacy be a problem for you?

Polypharmacy can:

    • Cause bad health outcomes like:
      • Falling more often
      • Thinking poorly
      • Feeling very tired
      • Eating poorly
    • Cause health problems that need hospital care
    • Change how well your medicines work
    • Make it hard for you to take your pills correctly
    • Make it hard for you to see side effects

What will happen to my medicines?

TAPER is not just about getting off all your medicines. The purpose is for you and your team to figure out whether your medicines are working well, safe, and needed.

To do this, you and your team may decide to:

    • Change the amount of a medicine you take

    • Change the number of medicines you take

    • Switch to safer medicines

    • Not make any changes to your routine at all

If you and your team make changes to your medicines, you will be carefully watched. For example, your team might learn that your blood pressure is stable even without your blood pressure pill.

Some medicines need to be changed slowly to prevent unwanted problems. In TAPER, you will work with your health care team to do this safely.  

How might TAPER benefit me?

TAPER may benefit you by:

    • Making your drug routine easier, safer, and work better
    • Improving your confidence in managing your medicines
    • Prioritizing your health goals
    • Improving your thinking, energy, sleep, and nutrition
    • Reducing pain and number of falls
    • Reducing hospital visits

Are you a patient participating in a TAPER research study?

If so, click on the questions below to learn more.

Where is TAPER being offered?

TAPER is being offered in different locations in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. If your health care team is participating in a TAPER study, talk to your family doctor about becoming enrolled.

What am I responsible for?

You are responsible for attending your study appointments with the pharmacist, physician, and the researcher. You are also responsible for reporting any negative changes in your health to the research team and/or your family doctor.

How much will this cost me?

Getting involved will cost you nothing.

How long will this take?

You will first attend an appointment with the research assistant which will take 1-2 hours. Next, you will be randomized into the control group or TAPER group.

If you are in the control group, you will receive 3 phone calls from the research assistant at 1 week, 3 months and 6 months after your first meeting with the research assistant. You will continue to receive care as usual from your doctor. At 6 months, you will be asked to meet with the research assistant again for 1 hour to complete some questionnaires. Then, you will be offered TAPER.  

If you are randomized to the TAPER group, you receive TAPER right away. You will attend an appointment with the clinic pharmacist, and then an appointment with your family doctor. You will also receive 3 phone calls from the research assistant at 1 week, 3 months and 6 months after your doctor’s appointment. At 6 months, you will be asked to meet with the research assistant again for 1 hour to complete some questionnaires. 

What are my chances of being in the control vs. intervention group?

You have an equal chance of being in either the control or intervention group. If you are in the control group, you will still get to participate in TAPER after 6 months.

Is this going to harm me?

No, your family doctor and your pharmacist will work with you to make any changes to your medicines as safe as possible. This is based on what is most important to you. If your medicine is changed, reduced, or stopped, you will be watched closely for any side effects.

What happens if I experience a bad side effect?

Report your side effect to the research team, your family physician and/or clinic pharmacist.

I see more than one doctor. Will they also be involved?

Your family doctor will follow clinical care standards and will consult with other doctors involved in your care when necessary.